background preloader

Population Issues

Facebook Twitter

James Howard Kunstler: The ghastly tragedy of the suburbs. The Beginning of the Universe and the Limit of Knowledge. “Despite its name, the big bang theory is not really a theory of a bang at all. It is really only a theory of the aftermath of a bang.” -Alan Guth So you finally understand it. The Big Bang tells us that the Universe was hotter, denser, and expanding at a faster rate in the past. Image credit: original source unknown. The farther back we go, the closer together everything was, the higher in temperature (and shorter in wavelength) all the radiation was, and — of course — the younger the Universe was. Image credit: Ned Wright (possibly Will Kinney, too), via At some point, it was hot enough that neutral atoms couldn’t even form; as soon as an electron would find an atomic nucleus, a high-enough-energy photon would come along and ionize the atom’s constituents.

Image credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Image credit: Ned Wright. Inflation is a period of time where the Universe was expanding exponentially. Image credit: Cosmic Inflation by Don Dixon. 125 Great Science Videos: From Astronomy to Physics & Psychology. Astronomy & Space Travel A Brief, Wondrous Tour of Earth (From Outer Space) - Video - Recorded from August to October, 2011 at the International Space Station, this HD footage offers a brilliant tour of our planet and stunning views of the aurora borealis.A Universe from Nothing - Video - In 53 minutes, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss answers some big enchilada questions, including how the universe came from nothing.A Year of the Moon in 2.5 Minutes - Video - The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been orbiting the moon for over a year.

The footage gets compressed into 2 slick minutes.A Day on Earth (as Seen From Space) - Video - Astronaut Don Pettit trained his camera on planet Earth, took a photo once every 15 seconds, and then created a brilliant time-lapse film.Atlantis's Final Landing at Kennedy Space Center - Video - After more than 30 years, the space shuttle era comes to a close. Video runs 30 minutes. Physics Biology & Chemistry Environment, Geology and & Ecology. Eliezer Yudkowsky on Bayes and science: what? By Massimo Pigliucci It is no secret that my already normally skeptical baloney detector now jumps to deep orange alert any time I hear the word “singularity.”

I was not too impressed with David Chalmers’ lecture about it at the City University of New York Graduate Center, and I debated singularitarian guru Eliezer Yudkowsky on BloggingHeadsTV on the same topic. My later encounters with that particular group of techno-optimists and futurists have not improved my opinion of the whole shebang a bit. Still, in the spirit of open inquiry and of keeping myself on my own toes, I devoted about an hour to reading three not-so-recent posts by Yudkowsky on the theme of quantum mechanics, science and Bayesianism (the philosophy of science related to Bayesian statistics).

It may not have been the most productive hour of my life, but I’d like to share it with you. I actually intended to read only one of Yudkowsky’s posts, intriguingly entitled “The Dilemma: Science or Bayes?” But I was disappointed. What is Chaos? An Interactive Online Course for Everyone. Physicists Discover Geometry Underlying Particle Physics. Physicists have discovered a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality. “This is completely new and very much simpler than anything that has been done before,” said Andrew Hodges, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University who has been following the work.

The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions. Interactions that were previously calculated with mathematical formulas thousands of terms long can now be described by computing the volume of the corresponding jewel-like “amplituhedron,” which yields an equivalent one-term expression. Locality is the notion that particles can interact only from adjoining positions in space and time. Expanding Our Horizons: Matter, Space, and the Universe. The Fermi Paradox - Wait But Why. PDF: We made a fancy PDF of this post for printing and offline viewing. Buy it here. (Or see a preview.) Everyone feels something when they’re in a really good starry place on a really good starry night and they look up and see this: Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe.

Personally, I go for the old “existential meltdown followed by acting weird for the next half hour.” But everyone feels something. Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—”Where is everybody?” A really starry sky seems vast—but all we’re looking at is our very local neighborhood. Galaxy image: Nick Risinger When confronted with the topic of stars and galaxies, a question that tantalizes most humans is, “Is there other intelligent life out there?” The science world isn’t in total agreement about what percentage of those stars are “sun-like” (similar in size, temperature, and luminosity)—opinions typically range from 5% to 20%. 1. 2. 3. Google. Too much Technology? We love technology at RedShark. It's changing at an ever-increasing rate But not everyone, including our own Phil Rhodes, agrees 100% with us! I am no stranger to the concept of vorsprung durch technik, even though I have never had anything to do with Audi.

In the perhaps 250 years since the beginning of the industrial revolution, technology has brought enormous benefits to humans. Modern western society relies on it heavily, and it would almost certainly be impossible for Earth to support 7 billion people, in the various styles to which they have become accustomed, without it. Downsides to Moore's Law But great as Moore's Law is, and much as I appreciate the increased flexibility of being able to use After Effects on processors an order of magnitude faster than they were less than ten years ago, there are, as ever, a few downsides. The Poster Child for the Problem The 4K Proposition Camera Change for Change's Sake And so to cameras. Enough Technology. Green Builder Media Blogs - GreenBuilder. It’s disheartening that climate change remains a politically charged issue, particularly since its consequences affect everyone, everywhere, in all geographies and walks of life.

Just this week, I’ve seen stories about how the Chamber of Commerce is now lobbing against the Environmental Protection Agency, backing legislation that would diminish the EPA’s ability to regulate emissions from power plants, claiming that the Clean Air Act is “not the appropriate vehicle to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.” Huh? Despite the elephant-sized disconnect in the Chamber of Commerce’s argument, the organization asserts that limits on greenhouse gas emissions for power plants will raise power prices with “negative implications extending to nearly every segment of the economy.”

Clearly, these folks are so blinded by their struggle to cling to remnant business models that they are missing the beckoning call of innovation. Whether we like it or not, everyone is already affected by climate change. The New World After Oil, Cars and Suburbs | Alternative Energies. Eric W. Sanderson is a senior conservation ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the author of "Terra Nova: The New World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs" (Abrams, 2013) and "Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City" (Abrams, 2009).

He contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. As we tuck into our Thanksgiving feasts this week, let's give thanks for the blessings of America. Most Americans live in a house. Since World War II, America built over 90 million housing units, mostly in the suburban rings around cities. (Today 14 percent of existing homes stand vacant all year long.)

With houses came cars. 314 million Americans own over 253 million cars. Cars drink oil. Great cities provide opportunities for transportation, shopping, employment and recreation — all within easy walking distance.Credit: Copyright Eric W. Why dredge up all this ancient history on Thanksgiving ? Sprawling suburbs make people drive. What 11 Billion People Mean for the Planet | World Population.

By LiveScience Staff | November 19, 2013 07:49am ET Credit: Crowd image via Shutterstock. The human population is exploding. Earlier this year, the United Nations released a new report that said the global population was on pace to reach 11 billion people by the end of the century — a full 800 million more people than were expected by 2100 (with a range between 9 million and 13 million), and a whopping 4 billion more than call Earth home today.

The bump in the predicted number was made in part because birthrates in sub-Saharan Africa are not dropping as fast as predicted. All of those people mean a lot of extra mouths to feed, more strain on water supplies, a lot more trash and human waste to put somewhere and an increased threat of a major deadly global pandemic, among other problems. As part of a weeklong series, LiveScience is taking a look at what impact a population of 11 billion might have on our Pale Blue Dot, and in what ways humans might need to adapt. Nanotechnology. Just give me the FAQ The next few paragraphs provide a brief introduction to the core concepts of nanotechnology, followed by links to further reading. Manufactured products are made from atoms. The properties of those products depend on how those atoms are arranged. If we rearrange the atoms in coal we can make diamond.

If we rearrange the atoms in sand (and add a few other trace elements) we can make computer chips. If we rearrange the atoms in dirt, water and air we can make potatoes. Todays manufacturing methods are very crude at the molecular level. It's like trying to make things out of LEGO blocks with boxing gloves on your hands. In the future, nanotechnology (more specifically, molecular nanotechnology or MNT) will let us take off the boxing gloves. "Nanotechnology" has become something of a buzzword and is applied to many products and technologies that are often largely unrelated to molecular nanotechnology. Nanotechnology will let us: Some Frequently Asked Questions More Information Books.

Material Remains: The Perpetual Challenge of Garbage. Editor’s note: The following is the introduction to a special e-publication called Conquering Garbage (click the link to see a table of contents). Published this month, the collection draws articles from the archives of Scientific American. Garbage is one of the oldest and most vexing of human creations. In early times, small-scale societies frequently relied on natural scavengers to make their discards disappear, but when trash accumulations grew too troublesome even for that convenient symbiosis, the entire community often pulled up stakes and moved. Ancient cities dealt with trash by building atop their detritus over the centuries (to the delight of today’s archaeologists). It is now one of the most urgent challenges of contemporary life.

Difficulties with waste have grown critical in the crowded modern world, and debates about what to do with our castoffs have grown controversial and divisive. Some constants remain. See also: Fossil Fuel Use Continues to Rise. Despite concerted global efforts to reduce carbon emissions through the expansion of clean and renewable energy resources, fossil fuels continued to dominate the global energy sector in 2012, according to new figures released yesterday by the Worldwatch Institute. Coal, natural gas and oil accounted for 87 percent of the world's primary energy consumption last year, the group reported in a new "Vital Signs Online" report. "The relative weight of these energy sources keeps shifting, although only slightly," states the report by researchers Milena Gonzalez and Matt Lucky, members of the Worldwatch Institute's climate and energy team.

While the U.S. boom in shale gas helped push the fossil fuel's share of total global energy consumption from 23.8 to 23.9 percent, coal also increased its share, from 29.7 to 29.9 percent, as demand for coal-fired electricity remained strong across much of the developing world, including China and India, and parts of Europe. Short-Term Gratification Proves an Obstacle to Climate Change Progress. When nations that were parties to the Montreal Protocol agreed to completely end the production of ozone-depleting substances by 1992, the agreement led to the restoration of the ozone layer, which acts as a shield to protect all life from the sun's harmful radiation. Awareness and cooperation were vital to this accomplishment, says a new study examining human behavior and saying that these elements will be crucial to upcoming international negotiations toward mitigating climate change. The Montreal Protocol is a promising example, said Jennifer Jacquet, a clinical assistant professor in New York University's Environmental Studies Program and the lead author of the study, recently published in Nature Climate Change.

"Almost everything is related to this issue of timing and the way we frame it," Jacquet said. The ultimate question was whether an individual chose a short-term benefit over a long-term reward that has a higher value, beneficial for future generations. How Science Figured Out the Age of the Earth. Editor’s note: The following is the introduction to a special e-publication called Determining the Age of the Earth (click the link to see a table of contents). Published earlier this year, the collection draws articles from the archives of Scientific American.

In the collection, this introduction appears with the title, “Stumbling Toward an Understanding of Geologic Timescales.” Aristotle thought the earth had existed eternally. Roman poet Lucretius, intellectual heir to the Greek atomists, believed its formation must have been relatively recent, given that there were no records going back beyond the Trojan War. The Talmudic rabbis, Martin Luther and others used the biblical account to extrapolate back from known history and came up with rather similar estimates for when the earth came into being.

The most famous came in 1654, when Archbishop James Ussher of Ireland offered the date of 4004 B.C. Within decades observation began overtaking such thinking. Oh, the Humanity: Is the Threat of Overpopulation Still a Big Deal? EarthTalk® E - The Environmental Magazine Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that human overpopulation isn’t such a big issue anymore, as numbers are expected to start declining in a few decades? —Melinda Mason, Boone, Iowa Ever since Thomas Malthus published “An Essay on the Principle of Population” in 1798, positing incorrectly that humans’ proclivity for procreation would exhaust the global food supply within a matter of decades, population growth has been a hot button issue among those contemplating humankind’s future. Indeed our very success going forth and multiplying, paired with our ability to extend our life expectancy, has meant that we are perpetually pushing the limits of the resource base that supports us.

When Malthus was worrying about the planet’s “carrying capacity,” there were only about a billion of us on the planet. Of course, the immigration that continues to fuel population numbers in developed countries is coming from somewhere. Pressure for Results Mounts as Fusion Research Crawls Forward. Opinion: We don't need another billion people. A Move Is Afoot to Keep Climate Science Out of Classrooms. Dr. Michio Kaku on Why Physics Ends the Free Will Debate.

Human Populations. A Cooler Pacific May Be Behind Recent Pause In Global Warming. Fish Farms Cause Rapid Local Sea-Level Rise. As Asia Bakes, Scientists Predict Extreme Heat May Become the Norm. Climate Change Shifts Range and Behavior of Ocean Species. Arctic Sea Ice Loss Creates Ripple Effects. Today's Climate Change Proves Much Faster Than Changes in Past 65 Million Years. Global Water Shortages Grow Worse But Nations Have Few Answers. How to Survive a Climate Catastrophe | Guest Blog. Injection Wells Spawn Powerful Earthquakes [Video] 9 Environmental Boundaries We Don't Want to Cross | Wired Science. Human Population Reaches 7 Billion--How Did This Happen and Can It Go On? U.N. Calls for Investment to Prepare for More Crowded World. Making Sense of 7 Billion People | Wired Science.